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Halo 3 Legendary Map Pack Hands-on

And what about these??? Omg i want them!! Embarassed

April 11, 2008 - On April 15, the second set of downloadable Halo 3 maps, known as the Legendary Map Pack, will be made available for 800 Microsoft Points ($10 US). Those willing to pony up the cash will find themselves with three maps and a set of new Forge tools. Of course, the maps will eventually be made available for free to everyone, but we know there are few amongst the Halo hardcore that enjoy waiting. That's why IGN recently made the trip up to Bungie to give them a spin and bring back our impressions.

This first Legendary Map Pack board should be as familiar as the back of your hand. Though the arena has been given a facelift with a darker look, it's a remake of Lockout in every way. Very little has changed. Even the weapons are in the exact same locations. A few of the interior areas have been had their dimensions slightly changed, but even the flag and king of the hill locations have remained intact during the translation from Halo 2 to 3. The only new addition is the placement of a few gadgets around the map to give it that Halo 3 flavor. A regen on top of the battle rifle tower will quickly remind you that things aren't exactly how you remember them.

So what makes Blackout special? Not much until you enter the Forge. If you enter into simple matchmaking, you'll find Blackout in its pure form. However, with some careful editing you can find yourself with a whole new ballgame. New blast doors have been added to the palette that can be placed around Blackout to block off doors or entire sections of the map. You can also go in and add a Ghost or Mongoose to the map. Good luck navigating around the twisting halls, but a Ghost on the central platform can be a powerhouse.

Ghost Town
If you're thinking about purchasing the Legendary Map Pack, this map is a good reason to take the plunge. The layout and look are classic Halo in all the right ways. The battles take place in an old, rundown facility that has been abandoned long enough to begin crumbling in the face of encroaching nature. Cement structures are cracked with rebar poking out. Makeshift wooden bridges span the rectangular main drag. There's a rundown atrium, broken and overgrown with light filtering in on the sniper rifle it houses. It's the perfect place for a fight.

After warming up with some free for all and team slayer, we switched over to some objective games. The map is set up beautifully for one-sided objective matches such as one bomb or one flag. There's a defensive base that at first glance appears impenetrable but defenders will quickly realize that there are a number of ways to infiltrate the area and it is all too vulnerable to long distance weapons. The front opens to a long corridor, but can also be attacked from a series of platforms to come in from above. There's also a simple back route to keep those on defense honest. We found the entire setup to be good for bunkering down in, but the sheer size of the map made it impossible to venture out and take attackers on in neutral territory.

We also got a few games of territories under our belt and found the map well-suited to that game type as well. The five areas to capture are spread out and placed ideally to attack or defend. Grabbing three can be a challenge, but after that it takes some serious skill to nab a fourth.

Like Blackout, Ghost Town has a few unique Forge items of its own. Wooden scaffolding and planks can be pieced together to create sniper platforms, ramps or new bridges. Bungie has made sure that these creations will stay put as well; anything you place into one of these new maps is not affected by physics once the game begins.

Sidewinder is back and it's better than ever. Unlike Blackout, this is a true remake and not just a direct translation. It still has the look to bring back those Halo: Combat Evolved memories, but once you start playing it you'll quickly realize that only the visuals feel like Sidewinder. This is Halo 3 and that means one thing: man cannons.

The general shape of Avalanche remains unchanged from the Sidewinder days. The outdoor area is horseshoe shaped with a pass through the interior that quickly allows travel from one base to another. Vehicles are still the predominant mode of transportation, but if you can't find one you aren't entirely out of luck.

The interiors of each base have been given an overhaul as well. Ladders are so last-gen. Instead you'll find ramps up to where the flag rests, sitting behind one-way glass that allows attackers to see through without defenders knowing what's coming their way. Players can also run up a small path on the side of the base and flank the defenders. Those aren't the only ways in.

Each base now has a man cannon to allow for a quick exit. There's another out in the field too that can send anything from a single person to an entire Warthog directly into the base. There's also a power drainer right next to the man cannon that leads into the base, a nice way of weakening the defenses before heading in for an assault. Getting out with the flag isn't as easy as it sounds, but it sure is fun to try.

There are other big changes to the map as well. Many of the walls out in the field now have man cannons on them to quickly vault across open spaces. The teleporters are now two-way affairs, taking you to and from the bubble shield, rocket launcher and a turret. The central cave has been opened up and is a huge choke point for fighting. It's also where you can find the Spartan laser -- a must have against the Hornets (sans rockets), tanks, wraiths and banshees that perpetually circle the map. That tank is as devastating as ever, but don't worry. It's been removed for default team slayer games.

And of course, Avalanche has a few new Forge items to tool around with. These are all Forerunner inspired and include things like a ramp, bridge, conical watchtower perch, wall and glass wall. With so much open space, there's plenty of room to build a whole new structure to attack and defend.

Is it Worth it?
I've taken issue with the pricing for Halo 3 maps in the past and those same complaints feel magnified with this upcoming release. 800 Microsoft Points is a stretch for these three maps. Ghost Town is a great addition to the rotation and Avalanche is everything you could hope for in a remake of Sidewinder. Blackout, though, is nearly identical to Lockout. Without any real design work being done, is it really fair to charge for it? This one should have been handed out free straight from the start. A re-release should be a nod to the fans that put so many hours into Halo 2, not a search for profit. You can just go play Halo 2 if you want Lockout that badly.

Like the Heroic Map Pack, this one is a better deal for those that make use of the Forge. Placing objects down locks them in place now, ensuring your creations don't get blown to bits during fights. The new pieces each map offers are great objects to fiddle with, particularly the blast doors to close off routes in Lockout. The coolest part of the new Forge options, though, is easily the visual filters you can slap onto these three maps.

When you enter into the Forge on Blackout, Avalanche or Ghost Town, you'll find the option to place small spheres on the map that dramatically alter the way everything looks. Only the three new maps can use the six FX filters, and Avalanche doesn't have a diverse enough color palette to make great use of them, but the different looks you can create with them are drastic. Here's a rundown of the visual effects:

Juicy: This ups the color saturation and makes every color even more pronounced. It looks especially cool on Ghost Town.

Nova: Feel like going blind? Nova makes everything feel like you just looked at the sun. Bright and difficult to see anything that isn't directly in front of you, this filter makes long distance fighting impossible.

Pen and Ink: The colors are all washed out and inked borders dominate the visual landscape. Very cool looking.

Olde Timey: This filter gives everything the look of an old western or silent film. Slightly grainy and with an aged look, the only thing missing is saloon rag time music.

Color Blind: A fairly standard translation to black and white visuals. Now you can see what videogames would look like had the color television not been invented.

Gloomy: The Bungie guys call this one their "Gears of War filter." That should say it all.

These orbs only exist in the Forge, once you start a game with one applied the filter remains but nobody can see the "object" causing it. Each of the filters can be stacked on top of one another, though once they're all applied it's hard to make out anything, let alone play the game. The real advantage of these filters probably isn't even in gameplay -- all videos and pictures you save while using them keep the visual changes intact. We'll surely be seeing a whole slew of new Halo 3 videos popping up on the net that make use of them in hilarious ways. I'm personally waiting in anticipation of a Halo western that uses the Olde Timey filter.

So if you're into playing custom games on the Forge or enjoy creating flashy looking Halo videos and images, by all means jump on this pack. Otherwise, it's probably fine waiting until they inevitably go free. The maps aren't bad at all; the price just feels like Microsoft is taking advantage of the hardcore fans.
Yea, I am freegin excited about these... Although I know they will be free in the very near future, I am sure I will buy them just like I did the Heroic Maps. What sux is that not many people just just anti up the 10 bucks and buy them and so I will have no one to play with. I bought the Heroic maps the day they released and it was 2 months before anyone I knew had them. Even in going into matchmaking, there just weren't as many people as I wanted to play with - you always had the same 6 year olds talking crap. I am really excited about Blackout, but I am sure I will be digging in on of them.

Bungie is fortunate that they made such an addictive game. I am not even that good at it, but I play nearly daily because I have to have my fix.

I am excited for the new maps, but I am going to wait for them to be free this time. I am in college, and shelling out ten bucks for maps sucks. Can't wait to play them though, they look amazing!
Just one more day, one more day, one more day...

one more day...

This is going to be epic.
Im definetly buying this addon
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